BRITISH SATELLITE BROADCASTER Sky announced its small white set-top box last week that gives any TV direct access to the firm's on-demand streaming service for just under a tenner.
Bundled with a remote control, the miniature box connects any TV wirelessly to the internet, and once hooked up, provides viewers with access to Now TV. Until now, Now TV was purely a website and app offering access to Sky's catalogue of movie and sports content for a monthly fee or on a pay as you go basis.
The good news for those who prefer not to pay for TV content is that the device also gives users free access to a number of catch-up and on-demand services such as BBC iPlayer, Demand 5, the BBC News App and Sky News.
To be frank, we weren't expecting much of the Sky Now TV box in terms of design and build considering its low cost. But at just a penny less than a tenner it's not that bad. Its basic plastic design with concave top and simple lines is unobtrusive enough not to disrupt the setup of any existing home entertainment system. It might not be to everyone's tastes, but its glossy white and navy plastic finish, which is also repeated in the remote control, does have a rather "fun" feel and fits in well with the branding of the service.
Its rather discreet 84x84x23mm size also ensures that the box won't take up much space by your TV and could probably be hidden away if you're not a fan of its design or colour.
On the back there are three ports: an HDMI-out, a power socket and an A/V line out.
The remote control that is supplied has a very simple selection of commands. Shortcut buttons take you directly to the home screen, Sky services and the app store. There's also a Back button that's handy if you somehow navigate to the back of beyond, accompanied by directional arrow and playback controls as well as an OK button for selecting onscreen choices.
Ergonomically, the Sky Now TV remote feels good in the hand, with a groove in the back where your index finger can rest comfortably. Your thumb can then reach all the buttons with ease.
The brilliant aspect of Sky's little box is the simplicity of setting the thing up. It can be done in five easy steps: open the box, pull out the unit and remote control, add the included batteries to the remote, bang in the supplied HDMI cable and power adapter, and plug it into your TV.
It isn't as simple as that to get it completely up and running, however, as you will need to find your WiFi connection and input your router's password, if you have one that is, to get the box online. Unfortunately, there's no Ethernet port, so you will need wireless connectivity to use it.
Once you've input your WiFi credentials at the start-up screen, you will then have to cruise through a few rather boring setup options such as selecting the time zone and putting in your login details, but this doesn't take too much time to complete.
Note that you will need to be already subscribed to Now TV before accessing the features of the box, so make sure this is done first online via nowtv.com, or else setting up the set-top box for the first time might take a little longer.
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